FIRS seals NICON hotel, insurance over N392m tax debt

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Operatives from the Federal Inland Revenue Service on Thursday sealed the NICON Luxury Hotel and the NICON Insurance Plc.

Both companies are said to be owing N392,623,765.00 as tax liabilities to the Federal Government.

The development paralysed business activities at both companies as guests, customers and members of staff were asked to vacate the premises of both organisations.

For instance, at the NICON Luxury Hotel which is one of the biggest hotels in the city centre of Abuja, the gate leading to the hotel was sealed by the operatives from the FIRS.

As a result, it was difficult for people to have access to the hotel.

At the entrance of the hotel’s reception, the FIRS pasted two notices that the hotel had been sealed because the management did not perform its tax obligations.

One of the notice read, “SEALED; FIRS.” It has the logo of the revenue agency.

According to the warrant the FIRS used in sealing the hotel, the hotel is alleged to be owing about N392, 623,765.00 in unpaid tax liabilities.

The amount is said to consist of   the Company Income Tax, Education Tax, Withholding Tax and Value Added Tax between 2009 and 2013.

It was, however, learnt that the management of the hotel initially disputed the figure and resisted its being sealed.

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But FIRS team went ahead to seal the hotel and ordered it to evacuate its guests.

Members of staff who had reported to work were forced to leave the premises owing to the closure of the hotel.

While some of them who had reported for morning shift were seen discussing the development in groups, others just left the premises.

The closure of the hotel also disrupted some business meetings which were going on at some of the halls.

The enforcement team were said to have given the organisers of the meetings few hours to wind up their programme.

Attempts to speak to the Manager of the Hotel were not successful as he was said not to be around by officials of the hotel when our correspondent got there.

When contacted, the Assistant General Manager, Public Affairs, NICON Insurance, Mr. Kunle Adewale, promised to get back to our correspondent over the issue.

“I cannot tell you anything right now on it but I will call you back very soon,” he told our correspondent in a telephone interview.

He had yet to do so when this report was sent.

The spokesperson for the FIRS, Mr. Wahab Gbadamosi, told our correspondent that the service was carrying out enforcement exercise across the federation.

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“What we are doing is part of our tax enforcement  exercise and this is expected to cover all the states of the federation,” he said and refused to speak further.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had warned the management and members of staff of the FIRS to brace up towards achieving its N4.95tn revenue target for 2016.

The minister, who gave the warning while addressing officials of the service at the second day of the FIRS Corporate Strategy retreat in Abuja, said the government would not tolerate any excuse as there was no room for failure.

She had said the revenue to fund the 2016 budget would be earned largely from non-oil sources owing to the persistent decline in the price of crude oil, adding that the situation had placed immense burden on the FIRS to come up with innovative ways of meeting its target.

She said, “There is really no room for failure. Really, there is no room for failure. Please ensure you deliver. The nation will depend on the FIRS to fund the budget. We need the money to stabilise the economy.

“In addition to your professional pride, and the satisfaction you may derive from working for the FIRS as a professional, please note that you are also building the nation by realising the target and by being professional, honest and dedicated in the way you do your work. This is what the nation needs now.”

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Source: Punch 

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